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Housing benefit cheat stole £12,000

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Housing benefit cheat stole £12,000

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Legal

Housing benefit cheat stole 12,000 Housing benefit cheat stole 12,000

Image: Fraud via Shutterstock

A welfare fraudster who made off with £12,000 in benefits has been prosecuted.

Christine Mary Palmer of Worcester failed to declare she had an additional job at a convenience store while claiming housing and council tax benefit.

When the 44-year-old made her original applications, she correctly declared the part-time work she and her partner did at local fish and chip shops. However, when she started the additional job in 2008, she failed to inform the council.

Later, when her claims were reviewed, Palmer deliberately hid the fact that she had another job, which would have meant that she was either no longer qualified for benefits or was entitled to much lower payments.

When Palmer was interviewed about the matter she admitted she had kept quiet about her second job.

An investigation discovered that the crook had received a combined overpayment totalling £12,021 in housing and council tax benefit between August 2008 and March 2013.

Representing herself at Worcester Magistrates' Court, Palmer pleaded guilty but claimed she had had at first made a genuine mistake.

She added that she was under a lot of financial pressure and kept putting off admitting what she had done. Additionally, she told the court that her partner was now in poor health and that she would likely have to give up some of her work because of this.

Deputy District Judge Davinder Dhaliwal handed down a custodial prison sentence of six weeks for each of the three offences, to be served concurrently, suspended for two years.

Palmer was also ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid work and was handed an £80 victim surcharge.

She will also have to fully repay all of the stolen benefits.

Nick Jefferies, revenues and benefits partnership director for Worcester City Council, said: “Benefit fraud is a crime. People in receipt of benefit payments have a duty to notify the Council and report any change in their circumstances that might affect the amount of their entitlement.

“In this particular case, a deliberate attempt was made by someone to claim benefits, when they knew they were not fully entitled to them. I believe this case sends a clear message that if you try to cheat the system when you claim benefits, you will be caught and we will prosecute you. Remember: benefit fraud is not a victimless crime. Cheats create higher Council Tax bills and higher taxes for everyone else.”

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